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Bec Snelling talks adversity, art & the rebirth of Douglas and Bec 

3 August 2021

Fashion Quarterly talks with Bec Snelling about her transformative experiences, which led to the rebirth of design studio Douglas and Bec.

WORDS BY Hemma Vara

Bec Snelling

A convergence of dramatic events, including a factory fire and a self-reckoning, has led to the rebirth of acclaimed lighting and furniture design studio Douglas and Bec as Snelling. 

In late October, the Douglas and Bec factory burnt to the ground. Yet for Bec Snelling and her now-retired business partner and father Douglas, the fire was an opportunity to rebuild, refine, and start anew for Bec, who had recently undergone rehabilitation for alcoholism. 

Bec explains, “alcohol for me was always my solution to living … it is an illness that becomes progressively worse, and in the end, for me, it physically and mentally took over my life”.

She is grateful for this transformative period. “I had no other option than to rebuild and do and get a new perspective on life – my way was clearly not working”, she says. 

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And Snelling’s first collection, Lens, reflects Bec’s time in rehabilitation and her exploration of blind contour drawing with charcoal and the body’s tensions in yoga.

In Lens, forms extracted from the yoga poses are deconstructed, stacked, and rearranged, evolving into the ‘Rabbit’ and ‘Camel’ light sculptures. 

'Rabbit' sculpture
'Camel' sculpture

“I love the rabbit pose – Sasangasana – I don’t know why. I do also love the camel pose, Ustrasana, as it’s so emotive and makes me really dizzy. I love things that push me into new realms. Hot yoga is really good for me – I have to listen, focus physically and mentally and breathe.”

Bec says that now, “for me to be comfortable in my own skin and live with a sense of ease is all I really desire – everything else is a cherry on top”.

And at its core, the values of Douglas and Bec remain at the heart of Snelling: beautiful craftsmanship, collaboration, and authenticity. 

Lastly, I ask Bec about her favourite New Zealand fashion brands – and without hesitation she names Gloria by Kristine Crabb, Wynn Hamlyn, and Paris Georgia. 

'Minor Major 04' pendant

Visit Snelling’s website at snellingstudio.com.

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